NOW - New York State's Campaign, Ending the Business of Human Trafficking, is an initiative dedicated to raising awareness of the pervasiveness of human trafficking throughout New York State, advocating for exploited victims by addressing the need for comprehensive and effective legislation, and working in collaboration with city, state, and federal officials, and non-governmental organizations in a coordinated effort to combat trafficking in all cities in New York State.
What is human trafficking?
Trafficking is the global practice of exploiting vulnerable women, men and children for use as commodities in conditions of sexual servitude (in the sex industry) or labor servitude (in operations such as sweatshops, farm labor, or domestic service). Traffickers gain and keep control over their victims using a wide range of weapons, including violence, intimidation, blackmail, immigration abuse, deception, and often the profoundly powerful weapon that is the desperate poverty of their victims.
Because women and girls are disproportionately poor, they are especially vulnerable to the worst abuses of trafficking. And, not by accident, women and girls in economically depressed regions are prime targets for traffickers. Many such young women are persuaded to leave their homes by promises of well-paid employment as waitresses or babysitters, only to find that when they reach a destination, their passports are confiscated, their genial recruiter has turned violent and brutal, and they are forced against their wills, against all their hopes and expectations, to work in strip clubs or brothels or other dehumanizing situations.
The motive that drives traffickers is the enormous profit to be made. The sex industry alone is a multi-billion dollar moneymaking machine. It is driven by demand in the form of huge numbers of buyers willing to pay for the services of a compliant woman or girl, and willing to ask no questions about why she is compliant or how she was made that way. The fact that there are more men seeking these services than there are women wanting to provide them is the reason why traffickers resort to force, to fraud, and to brutality to snare more women to feed that moneymaking machine.
Human trafficking is a devastating human rights violation occurring in our own backyards, and in our own neighborhoods. Only with the collaboration and cooperation of federal, state, and city, officials, service providers, advocates for victims, and concerned citizens can we stamp out this modern version of the slave trade.
The United States is the second highest destination in the world for trafficked women. For example, New York City is consistently named as one of the top cities that traffickers use as both a point of entry into the U.S. , transit location, and as a final destination point for their victims. According to the U.S. Justice Department, New York City's JFK Airport is a main trafficking hub. Trafficking is not just an international problem. It's happening throughout New York State .
Current law tends to punish trafficking victims for performing sexual or other acts of labor beyond their control. New York State is in dire need of trafficking legislation that will make a difference to victims. Comprehensive legislation must include a provision for meaningful penalties, must include a comprehensive definition, must address demand, and must include a defense for victims. Survivors of human trafficking need a comprehensive set of immigration and social services to assist them in rehabilitating their lives. There are few states in the nation that can claim as compelling a need, or as immense an opportunity, to make a direct impact on the devastating affects human traffickers have been leaving throughout the world.